Recall effort against Arizona’s Sheriff Joe Arpaio fails

TUCSON -- Despite a recent court ruling that the department run by Maricopa County’s top cop used racial profiling in his quest to crack down on illegal immigration, a recall effort against Sheriff Joe Arpaio has failed.

On Thursday, members of Respect Arizona and Citizens for a Better Arizona -- who launched the recall effort against Arpaio -- failed to gather the necessary 335,000 valid voter signatures by the 5 p.m. deadline. The aim was to force a recall election.

Activists behind the recall effort would not say how many signatures they were short. Randy Parraz, president of Citizens for Better Arizona, only said the two groups had collected close to 300,000 signatures.


Arpaio, reelected in November, blasted the group in a prepared statement.

“After months of name calling, after the disparaging effigies and theatrics … this latest recall effort has failed,” Arpaio said. “This effort failed because the good people of Maricopa County, whom I’m honored to serve, rejected the wrongheaded idea of overturning an election.”

The groups had struggled to raise funds necessary to hire paid signature gatherers — key to these sort of efforts. Instead, the groups relied heavily on volunteers to gather signatures against the six-term sheriff who is something of an institution in Arizona’s largest county.

Parraz, who led a successful recall against state Senate President Russell Pearce two years ago, said Thursday’s setback wouldn’t stop Arpaio’s critics.

“This fight is not over,” Parraz said.

The groups gained momentum after a federal judge ruled Friday that the immigration enforcement policies employed by Arpaio violated the Constitution.

Judge Judge G. Murray Snow found that Arpaio’s deputies used racial profiling when they detained people they suspected of residing in the country illegally.

The 142-page ruling came as part of a lawsuit brought on behalf of Latino plaintiffs who accused the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office of using race as a major factor in initiating immigration enforcement stops.

Arpaio has promised to appeal the ruling.

Parraz said the movement was “vindicated” by Snow’s ruling and plans to put pressure on the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors not to fund Arpaio’s appeal.


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